We arrived in Udaipur fairly late, so we just had dinner and called it an early night. We had plenty of things planned for the following morning!
Raju had us up and out the door by 9am.
“Go to the left here and you will see city palace, then you go to temple, then back to hotel. After you maybe rest, and I take you to lake 1:00. Okay? And if anyone says ‘you like guide’ or maybe ‘you buy something’ you say Chello!”
Ya, ya. We get it, don’t talk to anyone. So off we went. We made it the whole hundred meters on our own to the city palace. Go us.
What Raju failed to tell us is, that before 10am the cost to enter the city palace goes up EIGHT TIMES it’s usual cost.
“You know if you come back in one hour it will be much cheaper” said a man outside.
No actually, we didn’t know that! But we did now, and we weren’t about to pay that much money to get in. So we turned around and wandered through the markets!
The streets of Udaipur sell EVERYTHING! Clothing, leather bound diaries, hand painted door knobs, puppets, tourist trinkets, and anything you could ever need from a market. What Udaipur is best known for, however, is its miniature paintings.
The city has some incredible artists that paint out intricately designed paintings on small pieces of cloth or camel bone. The work is absolutely exquisite, although you can tell the difference in workmanship between shops. Some are much more skilled at the craft than others and yet every second or third store seemed to sell these paintings. Pictures of elephants, peacocks, camels: each animal symbolized a different attribute, whether it was love, luck or courage. It would take years of experience to perfect the techniques that’s for sure!
Kelsi and I wandered the markets for a few, until we found the temple we were told to check out. It was a gorgeous Jain style temple, sticking up tall and seemingly out of place, in the middle of the bustling marketplace. The white marble work was amazing, but after having seen the massive and elaborately carved pillars of Ranakpur we soon moved back to the markets.
Kelsi bought an anklet from one of the merchant stalls. “What metal is this made from?” She asked the man behind the counter. Nearly everyone promised that their jewelry was 92.5% silver and was of the highest quality.
“White metal” replied the guy. We had to chuckle. An honest vendor! I love it! “It won’t turn your skin green though, and the colour will stay like that”
“Will it break?” Asked Kelsi
“Probably.” He said nonchalantly.
Amazing! All we wanted was some cheap jewelry that looked decent. She didn’t even haggle with the guy. Just handed over the couple dollars he asked for and we all carried on happy! Why couldn’t everyone just be that honest?
We wandered down to the lake front and sat on the stairs, watching the locals come and go. It was relaxing and peaceful by the lake. People came and washed themselves and their clothes in the lake. They drank the water too, although I’m pretty sure that would have made Kelsi and I instantly sick. When 10am came along we strolled back up to the city palace.
The city palace was beautiful, but it had another one of those museums where you entered and then couldn’t leave again. And we realized why it was more expensive early in the morning. At ten, ALL the tourists in the world come to see the city palace. The place is cramped and hot and you can’t take a photo of anything properly if you wanted to! We didn’t have a guide, and so roamed aimlessly through the maze of rooms just trying to find enough space to breathe. In some rooms we were actually the spectacle. We had a woman ditch taking a photo of her boyfriend to instead have her photo taken with Kelsi and I. It’s become so common here that I’m almost used to it. I’m probably going to go home and have a couple ask me to take a photo of them, then I’ll sigh and get into the photo myself. It’ll be awkward to say the least.
About 5 minutes into the palace museum tour we got bored, but we couldn’t escape the throngs of people. We started playing our new favourite game with the artwork on the wall: I call it “man or woman?”.
The artwork that is displayed in the palace, and all of India for that matter, has a lot of gender suspicious paintings of people. Sometimes a man is painted in traditional garb, which looks like a dress. He has long hair pulled into a bun, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and I even saw nail polish on one! Normally I would go ahead and guess woman, but not here! Sometimes it’s the beard that gives it away, other times its just a shadow of a beard, and other times its the social situation of the painting. “Nope, women weren’t allowed to do that, gotta be a man”. This new game is the only thing that got us through the palace in a sane state!
It took us over an hour of pushing our way from room to room, rushing past important monuments and getting lost trying to find the exits signs out of each room, to finally escape the palace walls.
“Let’s go home” we both agreed, and we went back to the hotel to freshen up.
At 1:00 we went to the lobby to find Raju. When he wasn’t there, we took the opportunity to escape.
“Let’s just leave a note and head out on our own!” We suggested. So we did:
We couldn’t find you, so we left for the lake on our own. See you at 5:00 for the sunset drive!
– Sunita and Anita
And we were off on our own again. It felt wonderful finally being able to explore a place without the watchful and protective eyes of Raju. We didn’t need a babysitter, we needed a driver. I know he is just doing his best to look out for us, but never being allowed to talk to anyone, ever, was going to put us in the mad house.
We hopped in a Tuk Tuk and drove off towards the lake. We desperately wanted to go paddle boating so we got the driver to take us to the docks.
Our driver was elated to have two blonde girls sitting in the back of his Tuk Tuk. He couldn’t stop telling us how beautiful we were and staring at us in the side mirrors. Great. We would get the creepiest Rickshaw driver in all of Udaipur.
When we arrived at the docks we were greeted with disappointment. Something to do with the water levels of the lake, but there was no paddle boating for the day. No! Our mission to paddle in a swan boat was crushed!
So we decided to walk along the waterfront instead. We hadn’t made it ten steps before our Rickshaw driver caught up to us.
“I know another place to paddle boat!” He announced excitedly. “It is at a hotel just down the way.” Reluctantly we jumped back in, our love for paddle boating stronger than our drivers lame advances. About 2 minutes down the road another Tuk Tuk pulled up beside us.
“Wooooooaaaah!” Two young guys, about our age, in the Tuk Tuk next to us saw Kelsi and I and started driving along side us. They started shouting at our driver, asking him how he picked up such lovely ladies. Between the two vehicles we were taking up the entire road. Motorbikes and cars were swerving around the two Tuk tuks as they drove side by side.
“Where are you from?!” One guy shouted at us.
“New Zealand and Canada”we answered back.
“Ooooh, New Zealand!” They reached out to shake our hands from one Tuk Tuk to the next. This was so absurd we had to start laughing. 10 minutes away from Raju and look what happened to us!
One guy ended up climbing into the front seat of our Rickshaw to chat with us some more. His English was exemplary and his laugh was so contagious we could hardly contain ourselves. He talked non-stop for the entire way to the paddle boating.
“Let’s party later! Ill give you my number” we took it to be polite and to get him to leave us alone, but had no desire to party with the guys knowing that creepy Tuk Tuk driver would most likely be there.
“How about 7? We can go to Masala restaurant that my friend owns. We can pick you up from the hotel, where are you staying?”
“Can’t remember actually” we lied. “But if we decide to party we will come find you guys at Masala. Bye now!”
We laughed our way to the paddle boating and then laughed some more when we saw where we were. The hotel had a giant fountain outside it and you could paddle boat IN the fountain. This was too funny. So we paid our 40 cents and grabbed a swan. Two guys walking around the park saw us and hopped in a boat as well.
“Who in their right mind, other than us, would ever paddle boat in this thing?” I asked
“Don’t know, but we’ve made this fountain more popular than it’s been in years” said Kelsi as she pointed to the other two random guys.
We actually had a great time in the boat. Apart from the scorching sun, we were full of giggles as we raced around the small pool of water. And 20 minutes later we decided to head back to the markets.
Our favourite Tuk Tuk driver was waiting for us. Fabulous. We got him to drop us off at the edge of town so we could walk our way back to the hotel without him.
Even after hours in the markets in the morning, we couldn’t get enough of walking from shop to shop looking at things to buy. We stopped in at some amazing miniature painting shops and even bought a couple for ourselves. Then it was back to the hotel to find Raju.
For the sunset we drove to a temple at the top of a large hill across the lake. The views from the top were the best I’d seen in India to date. Peaked green hills with crazy looking twisted trees all over. A stunning view of the city of Udaipur and it’s beautiful lake. The sunset was once again a depressing smoggy fail, but we enjoyed the scenery nonetheless.
As we got back to the hotel, standing about 20 meters from the from entrance was the two young guys from the Tuk Tuk earlier.
“Great.” Said Kelsi.
“Did they see us?” We ducked down. How in the world did they FIND us?! We started laughing, wondering how we were going to explain this to Raju after our no talking rule. Instead we just booked it from the car to the front door and ran inside to hide. The boys spotted us and came running down after us. “Girls! Are you coming out?!” They were met with an angry Raju forcing them away from the area “Chello! Chello!” He shouted at them as if they were dogs.
Kelsi and I fell into our bed in fits of laughter. That would happen to us. Now we had to hide away in our room for another half hour before venturing off to dinner! Just our luck.
When sufficient time had passed we left for dinner. But not before getting the Spanish Inquisition from Raju. “Where are you going? When are you coming back? Who are you going with? Why aren’t you eating at the hotel?”
Ay, ay, ay! We just want to get some food! We had scoped out a lovely place by the waterfront and was excited to try it. The place had a busy but small rooftop patio that we sat in to watch the night away. We ordered a couple dishes and a large Kingfisher to share.
“Okay” said our waiter “it will take me a bit to cook the food, but I will bring you the beer now is that okay?”
“Ya sure” we said “that’s perfect” and he ran back down the four flights of stairs to the kitchen.
“Did he say he was MAKING the food?” Asked Kelsi.
“Ya, that’s what I heard, but it must have been a mistake in translation.”
The food came out fairly quickly and it was delicious. We powered through the meal and got the bill right away; we were in a rush to get home for “curfew” or “drinking time” with Raju.
We walked downstairs to find our server. Down and down all the flights of stairs… then we found him in the kitchen.
“Oh my god!” I said “do you COOK the meals too?!”
He looked at me almost a little embarrassed. He was a young guy, probably in his early to mid twenties “Yes, I am here all alone tonight. So it is very busy for me. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry! That’s crazy!”
I counted 11 people on the roof when I left. There was at least one more person sitting down below which made 12. 12 people, 12 different orders, and 12 different meals to cook. Cleaning the tables, getting the bills and the drinks and the beers… I’m never complaining as a server ever again! We tipped the guy very well and ran off to home.
Raju had been wanting us to drink the last of our whiskey every night since the camel trekking.
“You drink tonight?” He would ask, without fail. We were finding it hard to come up with anymore excuses.
“It we just drink the damn whiskey then he won’t ask anymore” Kelsi said.
“Unless he buys another one!” I reminded her.
Either way, we just decided to get it over and done with. We sat in the restaurant with some curried Indian snacks and a bottle of whiskey. Here we go!
I think Raju had a wonderful time getting to hang out with us over a couple drinks. He did seem to just want us to have fun on the trip (as long as that fun didn’t involve anyone else). But by the end, the whiskey was going straight to my head and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. We managed to polish off the bottle and then we walked down two flights of stairs to crash out after a long day.
It was the last time we heard anything about drinking whiskey…